If you go
What: Opening reception for new work by Don Tudor and Cully Kistler, and Raku-fired pottery by Brown Cannon; part of First Friday Artwalk
When: 5 to 8 p.m. Friday
Where: Sleeping Giant Gallery,
601 Lincoln Ave.
Steamboat Springs During a trip to Alaska in June, Sleeping Giant Gallery owners Don Tudor and Cully Kistler got a closeup look at the wildlife they'd traveled more than 3,000 miles to see.
"Probably the most outstanding moment of our trip was this male bear here," Tudor said Tuesday afternoon at Sleeping Giant Gallery, motioning to a large photo print titled "Alpha Bear" hanging on a gallery wall.
According to the description hanging next to the picture - one of many Tudor had brought home from a nine-day trip to the wilderness on Alaska's Pacific Coast - "This male grizzly gave Cully and I the most unforgettable 10 minutes of our lives during mating season in Alaska, as he pursued a sow within 50 feet of us as she used us for protection."
Tudor's photos and Kistler's paintings from the trip will be on display in a reception from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday at Sleeping Giant Gallery. The event is part of First Friday Artwalk and features Raku stoneware by part-time Routt County resident Brown Cannon.
Tudor and Kistler flew in mid-June from Denver to Anchorage, then from Anchorage to Homer, Alaska. They took a bush plane from Homer to Katmai National Park & Preserve in the Aleutian Range, and stayed at Hallo Bay Wilderness on the Pacific Coast of Katmai National Park.
"It was long enough that you could really start to get a feel for the way they live and act and react," Tudor said about the trip, which gave him and Kistler detailed views of grizzly bears and other Alaskan wildlife.
The artists planned their trip to be at Katmai National Park when spring bear clubs would be coming down the hills; a late spring delayed the new cubs, Tudor said, but he captured images of 2008's cubs walking along the waterline. Tudor and Kistler traveled with a guide and were able to get within 30 feet of the bears, Tudor said.
"Cully, she was afraid she was going to be scared of the bears, and she never once felt afraid or threatened. It never really entered her mind," Tudor said. Having someone else lead the way was new to Tudor, who grew up in the West and has photographed wild, free-ranging animals here for years.
"We've never been with a guide before. : I've always been the guide," he said.
Cannon, a Colorado native, will be opening his exhibit of Raku-fired stoneware at Sleeping Giant Gallery from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday. Cannon taps into his love of fishing and the outdoors for his designs. Raku pieces are crafted by firing pieces of stoneware at low temperatures, then enclosing them with combustible materials to produce colors in the glaze and a crackling effect. Cannon plans to donate his proceeds from the First Friday opening to the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club.